At this time of year, the Master Gardener Display Gardens that surround the Allen County Extension office are looking quite wonderful. So, to begin my column this week, the first bit of gardening advice would be to encourage you to take the time to go visit. You will not be disappointed. If you are looking for design and planting ideas or perhaps there is a particular plant you are interested in and you would like to see it growing in an actual garden setting, you will probably find it there. You are also welcome to call 481-6826, Option 2 and arrange for a guided tour by a master gardener so that you can ask questions while you tour.
In the meantime, here are a few questions and answers that might help you with something you’ve been wondering about:
Q. I planted an asparagus bed a couple seasons ago and finally have been able to enjoy spears this year. I was wondering when to stop harvesting and also when to clean up the bed. Will I be disturbing the actual plants if I pull weeds and grass that has gotten in the bed?
A. I am assuming you are seeing fern-like growth coming out of very small spears by now which is your signal that it is time to stop harvesting your asparagus. This is normal for this time of year.
This is also a very good time to clean out the bed of weeds and any other unwelcome plant growth. This can be a daunting task — but doing it carefully as well as at the end of every future season will prevent a huge buildup of plant debris. If allowed to go unchecked year after year it will become nearly impossible to tackle and seriously cut down on size and production of spears.
Also this is a good time to apply nitrogen fertilizer and composted manure to fortify the plants for next season.
Q. Should I stop pinching my chrysanthemum buds now?
A. Yes — let them go. By pinching your plant is probably a lot bushier by now and will make a beautiful fall display. Give them a weekly dose of Epsom salts or bloom booster fertilizer which will encourage them to set lots of buds and fortify the plant as it blooms.
Q. Some of my annual flowers are looking pretty leggy and overgrown and aren’t making as much bloom as I would like. Any suggestions would be appreciated?
A. It is time for a haircut or since it is a plant, a stem cut. I like to carefully gather up the leggy stems, and cut right above a leaf about half way down the stem. Do this all over each plant. It will look pretty bare and scary but don’t worry, add fertilizer to the watering can which will fortify the plant and soon you’ll see your plant going back into seed production mode. In a week or two you should be rewarded with more blooms.
Q. My cucumber plants are growing in a raised bed and right now they are going everywhere and wrapping around anything they can reach — will it hurt if I prune off those parts?
A. No it will not hurt at all. Keep the plant in bounds especially if you have other plants nearby and you prefer to keep them all separate. If there are cucumbers forming you should probably try to trellis the happy wanderers until you can harvest the fruit.
Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. She also answers gardening questions with horticulture educator Ricky Kemery noon-1 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday of each month on "The Plant Medic," a radio show on 95.7fm. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The News-Sentinel.